US passport

Are other countries issuing epassports?

The move to electronic passports is worldwide, driven by the realization that paper-based passports can be too easily altered and falsified. The large number of lost or stolen passports-more than 300,000 in the United States alone in recent years-meant there was a huge pool of paper-based passports potentially available to counterfeiters.

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Congress legislated that all countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program-which lets foreigners visit without obtaining a Visa-must issue electronic passports.

U.S.

What is an electronic passport (epassport)?

An electronic passport is the same as a traditional passport with the addition of a small integrated circuit (or "chip") embedded in the back cover. The chip adds digital security features that show the passport is authentic and the information in the chip has not been altered. These features prevent counterfeiting and better link the passport to its owner.
International

What are the differences between contactless smart cards and RFID?

Contactless smart cards are a very different technology from RFID tags.  Both are wireless, meaning they can communicate using radio like a cell phone, but contactless smart cards are far more advanced and secure.

Contactless smart cards have small but sophisticated computers inside them.  They deliver the highest levels of computer security to protect your identity, privacy or financial information.  Contactless smart card technology is suitable for uses such as identity credentials, passports and payment cards.
International

What happens at border control?

The border agent swipes the data page through a special reader to read the two lines of printed characters on the bottom of the data page. This provides a digital key, a signed document, that’s unique to your passport and required in the next step.

U.S.

Why can’t a criminal or terrorist steal an epassport and put their photo in it?

A criminal or terrorist might steal an epassport and replace the picture by a fraudulent one on the printed data page, but there is a digital copy of your picture on the epassport security chip that can't be changed without detection.

The information on the chip-including the photograph-is "signed" using a type of electronic seal, called a digital signature. It is virtually impossible to counterfeit an epassport, because no one can duplicate the authentic U.S. digital seal on the electronic data.

U.S.

Would someone be able to read or access the information on the chip using some special reader by just being close to me? (Sometimes this is called “skimming.”)

No one can read or access the information on the security chip in a U.S. electronic passport without you knowing it, even if someone is standing next to you with a special reader, for example. The United States has gone to great lengths to protect the privacy and security of its citizens when they carry and use an epassport. For one thing, there is a shield in the passport cover, so the chip in the cover cannot be read when it is closed. Also the epassport chip is "locked" with a key that is unique to each epassport.
U.S.

What is an electronic passport (epassport)?

An electronic passport is the same as a traditional passport with the addition of a small integrated circuit (or "chip") embedded in the back cover. The chip adds digital security features that show the passport is authentic and the information in the chip has not been altered. These features prevent counterfeiting and better link the passport to its owner.
U.S.

What happens at border control?

The border agent swipes the data page through a special reader to read the two lines of printed characters on the bottom of the data page.  This provides a digital key, a signed document, that’s unique to your passport and required in the next step.

International

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